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CHAPTER III
BELOW THE BOTTOM RUNG
* A sux of about fifty. "Waiting for me in a wicker chair on the
veranda of his house. Bulky, dynamic. Very charming manners,
but nervy, inclined to fiddle with his shoe-laces. Seemed to be
on his guard, as though ready to parry taunts from all directions.
Well, after all it's only to be expected...'
So runs an extract from my diary.
The man is Doctor Ambedkar. And in a moment we shall sec
why it is 'only to be expected.1
Arabedkar is labour member in the Government of India, and
one of the six best brains in, India. He is of the Cavour school of
statesman—an implacable realist. When he speaks in, public he
is galvauics creative, and almost embarrassingly to the point.
To compare the average oration of a Congress politician with a
speech by Doctor Ambedkar is like comparing a Hindu chant
with a fusillade/>f pistol shots.
As a result, he is one of the best hated men in India.
And why is it conly to be expected5. ...this nervousness, this
suggestion that he would be ready to take offence ?
Because Dr. Ambedkar, in the eyes of most of the 180 million
caste Hindus, is * untouchable.' A person, to bring pollution if his
3Iayfair dinner-jacket should happen to brush against their
dhofcis. A creature from whose touch the extreme orthodox must
fly as though he were a leper, a monster whose slightest contact
compels them to precipitate themselves into the nearest bath-tub,
to soap and pray, and pray and soap, and soap and pray, so that
the filth of Dr. Ambedkar—(M.A. London)—the shame of Dr.
Ambedkar—(high honours at Columbia University)—the plague
and scourge of Dr. Ambedkar—(special distinction at
Heidelberg)—should be washed for ever from their immaculate
.and immortal souls.
We are not talking of the past, but of the year 1944.. These are
not legends, fairy-tales, gipsy songs; they are news paragraphs,
stop-press.
Untouchability—history's  most  flagrant  example  of man's